By Anne Leader
Venetian painter Giorgione succumbed to plague no later than 7 November 1510. He was only 32 or 33 years old. Isabella d’Este, Marchesa of Mantua, had written to her Venetian agent in October of that year asking for a night scene by the hand of the artist, who was famous in his own day. To Isabella’s dismay, not only was the great Giorgione dead but also there were no pictures by him available for sale.
Today, Giorgione is recognized as one of the foundational painters of the Venetian school, along with the Bellini (Jacopo, c. 1400-71; Gentile, c. 1429-1507; and Giovanni, c. 1431-1516) and Titian (c. 1485/90-1576). We can only speculate what Giorgione would have achieved had he lived as long as these artists. Unlike the Bellini and Titian, known for their large-scale altarpieces, Giorgione primarily painted smaller-scale works for private use, often of mythological subjects. Some of his pictures have puzzled critics as to their meaning and authorship, often leading to contentious debates. All agree, however, that he is one of the great masters of Italian art.
Reference: Peter Humfrey and Martin Kemp. “Giorgione.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.
The Adoration of the Shepherds, 1505/1510, oil on panel. Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1939.1.289
The Tempest, oil on canvas. Venice, Galleria dell’ Accademia. Photo credit: Cameraphoto/Art Resource, NY
Three Philosophers, oil on canvas. Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum. Photo credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY
Laura, 1506, oil on canvas mounted on panel. Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Old Woman, c. 1508, oil on canvas. Venice, Galleria dell’ Accademia.
Sleeping Venus, c. 1510, oil on canvas. Dresden, Gemäldegalerie.